Backdated tax credits – have you missed out?

Published on 7 December 2012

Some tax credit claimants may not have received payments they should have for periods before they made their claim (‘backdated payments’) because HMRC failed to notify them of their entitlement. As a result of our intervention, HMRC have now improved matters for new claimants, but disappointingly they will not revisit old claims unless specifically asked to do so.

Here we explain the backdating rules and what you can do if you think you did not receive backdating in the past.

The backdating rules

Under the current tax credits legislation, a new claim for tax credits can be backdated up to 31 days before the day it is received by HMRC if the claimant would have qualified for tax credits during the period of backdating. Prior to 6 April 2012 claimants could have their claim backdated by up to 93 days, again providing they qualified for tax credits during that period of backdating. Claims for the disability elements and from claimants who have obtained refugee status can be backdated for even longer, in certain circumstances.

Claimants who get backdating automatically

HMRC state that backdating, of up to 31 days, is given to some groups of tax credit claimants automatically on receipt of the claim. These groups include:

  • families claiming child tax credit only;
  • families claiming both child tax credit and working tax credit; and
  • claimants who are no longer on certain benefits because they have started a new job.

Those who may have missed out on backdating

There are certain groups who do not receive automatic backdating. The main group is those who are in work but who are not responsible for children. They can claim working tax credit only.

In those cases, the claim is normally paid only from the date HMRC receive it.

HMRC’s position

The catch is that historically HMRC did not tell claimants that they could be entitled to backdating, nor how to ask for it. Until more recently, backdating was generally not mentioned on the claim form, or in the claim form notes, or in any of the WTC leaflet series or on the HMRC website. Accordingly, claimants who were not given automatic backdating and who did not ask HMRC for backdating could miss out on around one month’s tax credits (three months prior to 6 April 2012).

Following our 2009 article highlighting this issue, HMRC updated their website and the claim form notes from April 2010 to include information about backdating and how to request it. The claim form itself still does not mention backdating which is disappointing.

In spite of all this, HMRC will not be actively seeking out those who may have missed out on backdating in the past.

What can you do if you think you missed out on backdating?

All is not lost. If you think you may have missed out on backdating, you may be able to have your case looked at again even if you no longer claim tax credits or your claim has already ended.

Using the link below, download our short guide which explains who should contact HMRC and how to request any missing backdating.

‘LITRG Guide to tax credits backdating’


(07-12-2012)

Contact: Victoria Todd (please use form at http://www.litrg.org.uk/ContactUs)

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